Friday, 22 September 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Sister Christine : 71

IMPRISONMENT IN FLESH

...Before the coming of the Buddha, India had sunk into a state of materialism. All privileges were usurped by the Brahmins, who decreed that hot oil should he poured into the ear of Sudras who so much as heard the secret teaching. The time was ripe for the advent of a new manifestation of God, an Avatar — and the Buddha was born. He came, the Compassionate One, who withheld nothing. "I have never had the closed fist." he said. "All that I know I have taught." The highest teaching was given equally to the Brahmin and the outcaste, to the holy man and to the thief. All were equal in his sight, as they are in the sight of God. With him came a new influx of spirituality, a mighty force into which thousands upon thousands were caught. Its highest and greatest manifestation was in the realm of religion. There a great revival took place. Great numbers of all ranks gave up the world for the life of renunciation. Princes and barbers, masters and servants, alike entered upon the path. Once having renounced, all were equal. The prince bowed at the feet of his former barber, if it should be that the barber had been initiated first.

This incident is narrated in the Pali Canon: A number of the most powerful of the Sakya princes had decided to become monks of the Sangha of the Buddha. They were attended by their barber, who was to return to their homes the garments and jewels they had laid aside. As they went on, the barber too felt the impulse to join them in the new life. The princes encouraged him in this resolve, but asked him to go before them and receive initiation first, so that they would be obliged to do reverence to him. Caste restrictions and special privileges were put aside and only he was great, who was great in the "Kingdom of God".